Cannabis growers have known something for a long time — a stressed cannabis Sativa plant yields more CBD. However, stressing plants is not recommended since it brings its own set of risks. More often than not, stressed plants turn hermaphrodite and produce seeds and pollen, instead of buds — hence why cannabis growers are extremely wary of exposing their plants to extreme heat, thirst, and other elements that may stress out the plant.
Nevertheless, a recent study has discovered that when a low-THC hemp plant is exposed to tainted soil rich in toxic heavy metals — the result of coal mining, for instance — it produces a lot more cannabinoids. In addition, the THC levels remain the same; meaning, the plant is still legal to grow in the US, Canada, and Europe, which require THC levels below 0.3%.
So, how is this possible?
Well, the cannabis plant is able to perform phytoremediation — a technique that removes toxic compounds from the soil. This technique has also been used to remove radioactive contaminants from Chernobyl, Ukraine, and it will (hopefully) be used to remove plutonium from the land surrounding Rocky Flats, Colorado — the former US nuclear weapons factory.
One of the study’s lead authors, professor of biology at Pennsylvania State University-Harrisburg, Sairam Rudrabhatla, explains that the heavy metals that the cannabis plant takes up appear in the leaves of the mature plant; despite this, they can’t be found in the floral buds where cannabinoids and precious CBD are concentrated.
This could potentially open some lucrative opportunities for cannabis cultivators. Consequently, the land that was previously considered unusable (due to toxic waste), could now be used, cleansed, and turned into arable soil for growing food. What’s more, since the hemp plant will produce more CBD than usual, growers will also have a neat profit under their belts.
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Written by Bojana Petkovic